Mardy Murie started chronicling the world around her in 1911, when she and her mother traveled from Seattle to Fairbanks, Alaska, to join her stepfather in his new job as territorial assistant U.S. attorney. "A nine-year-old girl can see and hear a lot," she wrote in the introduction to Two in the Far North. Mardy wrote vividly of life in Fairbanks, of the hardy miners who came there seeking fortune, of grocers, butchers, hardware merchants, dry-goods dealers, saloon keepers--and right along with them, gamblers and prostitutes and the lawyers who invariably followed to keep all these interests in worse or better order, but in any case to make a living from them all.

She ventured forth to Reed College in 1919, where she studied for two years to be a teacher. Mardy decided to return home to Alaska, however, and in 1924 became the first woman to receive a degree from the University of Alaska. Upon her return to Fairbanks in the summer of 1921, Mardy was introduced to Olaus Murie, a young scientist with the U.S. Biological Survey (now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), who was headed further north to study caribou. A romance blossomed, and at 2:30 a.m. on August 19, 1924, in the Yukon River town of Anvik, the two were married. Their honeymoon began with a steamer trip up the Koyukuk River and ended with a long dogsled ride through the untracked wilderness of the Endicott Mountains of the Alaskan Arctic, where Olaus studied the caribou's seasonal migration. Mardy's honeymoon trousseau consisted of a fur parka and fur boots and flannel pajamas and wool shirts and hiking boots. Her spirit throughout those below-freezing days and nights was one of pure, unbridled joy. "Days on the trail taught us that there is always and forever something to rejoice about," she wrote. "It was a fairyland, this highland, skyland, on a glorious blue-and-gold day. Our seven dogs, the two of us, alone up there, sliding along the top of the world."

Soon after came a family and further connection to Reed. Daughter Joanne '49 and son Martin '50 followed in her footsteps to Reed; another son, Donald, is a photographer and writer living in Los Angeles. Mardy's half-sister, Louise '35, who married Olaus' half-brother, Adolph, also attended Reed. Today, Martin, a retired professor of zoology and biology, lives on a farm near Bangor, New York, with his wife, Alison '53. Joanne Miller is in Boston, while Louise lives close to Mardy in Jackson, Wyoming.

The Muries' long association with Jackson began in 1926, after Olaus was posted there to study the world's largest elk herd. When Olaus ventured up into the high country on his expeditions, his work became a family affair. Mardy, with babies Martin and Joanne in tow, joined him for summer-long camping and elk observation trips. Mardy served as Olaus's research assistant and cooked for the family over coals and washed clothes and the children in alpine creeks. "It was actually quite easy to pull this off," she told a reporter. "The children were perfectly well and happy and occupied. I didn't have to answer the phone, wax floors, go to bridge parties. The only thing that bothered me was so much stooping over the fire."

The appreciation of nature that Olaus and Mardy gained from their work soon translated into an abiding and spirited commitment to public action.
Mardy and Olaus Murie in the Sheenjek River Valley above the Arctic Circle in July 1956.

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